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How Accurate do you try to be?

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How Accurate do you try to be?  Reply with quote  

My favorite backseat writer (aka the husband, who really really really needs to go write his own book and leave mine alone) is fond of pointing out technical type errors in whatever scenes I reveal to him. When it's glaringly obvious, I pay attention. When he's being nit-picky, I blow him off.

So where do you decide to do the homework and when do you decide to fake it?

Post Wed Sep 15, 2004 7:10 pm   
earthshoes



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 213
Location: SW Missouri
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umm . . . that would be my post up there.
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Post Wed Sep 15, 2004 7:19 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address Yahoo Messenger
Goudron



Joined: 03 Aug 2004
Posts: 2570
Location: near Cleveland OH
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If you're writing fiction, you can count on a little leeway and suspension of disbelief, right? You don't want to come across as a total dumbass either. If I don't know what I'm talking about I'll write whatever it is I need to write and insert a note to research said thing. If it's a mere detail, that ought to work, but if it's a major portion of the story, then I suppose you ought to research until you know enough to be dangerous unless you want to come off as an expert.

The more I come to know, the more I realize how much I don't know. If you know you don't know what you're talking about, go research Very Happy

Please insert an IMUO (U=Unqualified) before this post.
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Post Wed Sep 15, 2004 8:43 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Unc



Joined: 18 Aug 2004
Posts: 300
Location: South of FRANCE
Re: How Accurate do you try to be?  Reply with quote  

Anonymous wrote:
My favorite backseat writer (aka the husband, who really really really needs to go write his own book and leave mine alone) is fond of pointing out technical type errors in whatever scenes I reveal to him. When it's glaringly obvious, I pay attention. When he's being nit-picky, I blow him off. So where do you decide to do the homework and when do you decide to fake it?


I'm torn on this one, partly because I don't know what you mean by "technical type errors" and partly because I don't know where in the writing process your "first reader" got his first read.

If a "technical type error" involves having a character shoot someone with a bazooka and having the victim laugh it off Rambo style and come back for more, that would seem to me to be the kind of oversight you'd want to know about.

As for the "when" issue, I'm a real fan of Stephen King's advice in "On Writing" to be very, very careful who gets to read your stuff, and when. Me, I'm a total nitpicker, so I don't give anything to *anyone* before it's finished (that is, until I think I've done the best I possibly can without further feedback). So at that point, I'm really *asking* for feedback, and if someone gives me some, I should pay attention. As long as it's useful feedback, that is, and not on the level of, "The trouble with this book is that the covers are too far apart." Cool

A cute story from King's book on this subject involves the *value* of the trusted reader who is willing to tell you the truth. Supposedly Hitchcock completed his first cut of "Psycho" and showed it to a bunch of studio execs and everybody loved it. But then Hitchcock's wife (for whom it was also her first viewing) spoke up and said, "You can't release this! Janet Leigh moves in the shower after she's dead." Nobody else noticed, not even Hitchcock. But at that point he thought he'd given the film his best shot, so such criticism was appropriate. It might not have been appropriate when viewing the daily rushes.

Post Thu Sep 16, 2004 12:41 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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I generally choose to do the research, but sometimes it's a grey issue--such as--

I have a scene in which a character, who is from California, has to take her 1982 Malibu Station wagon across a low water bridge for the first time (this sets her up to meet another chacacter who is significant to the plot). I made the mistake of asking my husband about the clearance beneath the car, he asked why . . . and we were off to the races. He said nothing short of a 4-wheel drive could make it and so on.

Now! I grew up in NW Arkansas where low water bridges were common so I know a bit about crossing these things, but we always drove pick-up trucks (ya'all be nice here). However, lots of people around us drove older cars, so I assumed it could be done. I was just fuzzy as to which older vehicles could make it. And I know nothing about cars, by the way.


I really was asking about how much of a perfectionist I should be when researching and planning scenes. I live with one of those people who notices things like inaccurate military dress (wrong medals for the uniform), mishandled weapons (counts the shots in old westerns), and is himself a reader. So with all of that in mind, I guess I'm wondering how many other readers are like this? Will minor inaccuracies trip them up? Cause them to throw the book aside in disgust (should I ever be lucky enough to get readers in the first place)?

Unc, I really enjoyed "On Writing". Like Christopher, the book was a source of encouragement, generally speaking.

Post Thu Sep 16, 2004 4:54 am   
earthshoes



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 213
Location: SW Missouri
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Durn it! Somebody has been messing with my cookies again.

That would be me up there and the last line should read,

"Unc, I really enjoyed "On Writing". Like Christopher, the book was a source of encouragement." The generally speaking referred to the book, not Chris. He's been a source of help specifically speaking. Smile
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Post Thu Sep 16, 2004 4:59 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address Yahoo Messenger
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